Thursday, April 24, 2014
Tips For Getting Better Customer Service
Tip #1 Never Yell
It can be incredibly frustrating when you have a legitimate complaint and the person who is paid to help you is not at all helpful, but yelling will only make the situation worse. Be calm, but firm, ask to speak to a supervisor if necessary. It's also much easier to be assertive if you know exactly what you need to communicate. Sure, sometimes a conversation can throw you for a loop, but as a customer, you can have expectations, but it's harder to give you what you want if you're screaming the place down.
Tip #2 Be Organized
Especially when you're dealing with important money issues that could require following up. For example, I mentioned a while back that I get my birth control through a federal program called Title X. This means that every three months, I go to the clinic, talk to a nurse for about two minutes, and then take home my stuff. For some reason, I kept getting bills in the mail from my clinic. This is not right, because this is a free program, and the bills made it look like I was visiting my doctor, whom I haven't seen in nearly a year.
I called the billing office a while back and the woman I spoke to said that it was just a charge that my insurance had charged them, so the sent me a bill, she didn't know what it was for. So I went ahead and paid it, since it was a small amount. Then I got another, larger bill earlier this week. I called my insurance provider, and they told me that they were not charging me for anything, but if the clinic continued to do so, they would open an inquiry. I called the clinic again, spoke to a different woman, who realized they were making a mistake, and the whole thing got cleared up. After the call, I made a note in my google calendar of what time I called and who I spoke to, just in case I need to follow up again.
For my student loans, since I make extra payments that I only want to go to the principal balance of the loan, I have to send them an email requesting that the adjust the payment manually. This always takes forever, but when I follow up, they do it right away. They might think I'm the most annoying person ever, but I don't care. I make a note in my calendar to check in a couple weeks to make sure they did what I asked, and then I follow up--again.
Tip #3 Use and Remember People's Names
This might feel a little awkward at first, but repeating someone's name back to them let's them know that you're paying attention. Similarly, if you need to follow up on a situation again, you know the last person who helped you. If someone in person is not wearing a name tag, ask their name. People on the phone should always introduce themselves by name, so jot it down at the beginning of the call and make sure at some point to say something like, "I understand what you're saying, Martha, but..." This is something I figured out when I was working in telephone sales. I had to introduce myself to people at the beginning of each call, and the people who addressed me later by name were always the least distracted. I adopted the habit, and it has worked very, very well over the years. Plus, it makes the interaction feel more like an actual conversation, which almost makes the two of you friends for a brief moment in time. Who doesn't want to help their friends?
Tip #4 Be Honest
Thankfully, I've never had this happen to me, but apparently there is a trend in retail where people just complain for the sake of getting free things--even to the point of trying to get staff fired. For instance, the customer will act as if something wrong has been done to them, or as if there's something wrong with what they're purchasing, and then demand a discount. Certainly you can ask for a discount if something is legitimately defective, but don't lie just to save a few dollars! That's insane behavior!
Tip #5 Be Reasonable
If you're at a restaurant and you find a hair in your pasta, it's perfectly reasonable to expect a replacement dish and for it to be taken off the bill--probably for free dessert as well. It's a unreasonable to demand the entire meal to be comped. This does depend on the level of fanciness of the place, but I kind of feel that demanding extras when you've only been mildly inconvenienced is just unnecessary. By not being greedy when something goes wrong for you, you're making it much easier for that restaurant to do right by someone else in the future.
Any other tips that you've discovered work in your favor in customer service situations?